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Program kicks off this weekend to help area homeless

North Dakota's winters are known for their ferocity: sub-zero temperatures, billowing wind and mounds of snow. Most of us wait it out nestled warmly in our homes.

The homeless aren't that fortunate, however, but help is on the way.

The fourth annual Homeless and Hungry event kicks off this weekend, Oct. 3-4 at 26 sites around the Fargo-Moorhead area. Locations in West Fargo include Faith Lutheran Church, Flame of Faith United Methodist Church and St. Andrew Lutheran Church. Homeless and Hungry begins at noon Saturday and ends Sunday at the Fargodome, where an all-city soup kitchen from 6-7 p.m. culminates the event.

The drive began in 2006 as a way to raise money and awareness for homeless people in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Erik Hatch, Faith Lutheran Church, spearheaded the movement.

To experience what it's like to be without a home, participants fast for 30 hours and spend a night sleeping in cardboard boxes. Each volunteer is encouraged to raise at least $365, enough to feed one person a year at $1 a day. Participants also go on a door-to-door food drive.

To date, the program has collected $350,000 and more than 40,000 pounds of donations (non-perishable food items, toiletries, diapers, clothing, etc.) with help from more than 1,000 participants. This year's goal is $250,000 and 25,000 pounds of donations. Homeless and Hungry is expected to draw at least 750 contributors.

All money raised goes to Fargo-Moorehead homeless shelters and food shelters, which include Churches United for the Homeless, the Dorothy Day House and the YMCA. Organizations such as the Salvation Army, Homeless Health Services and Central Cities Ministries also receive donations.

For more information, including a complete schedule and how to sign up, visit